British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a fresh blow Wednesday when a Scottish court ruled that his controversial decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to Brexit was unlawful.
The government immediately appealed, with the case set to be heard in the Supreme Court next Tuesday, and parliament set to remain shut in the meantime.
Johnson says the decision to suspend — or prorogue — parliament until October 14 is a routine move allowing his government to launch a new legislative agenda.
But critics accuse him of trying to silence parliamentary opposition to his threat to leave the European Union on October 31 even if he has failed to agree divorce terms with Brussels.
If Johnson fails to secure a deal he insists the country will leave anyway, to the outrage of many MPs who believe a “no deal” exit would bring huge disruption.
After the legal ruling, the opposition Labour party demanded that Johnson urgently recall parliament, which was suspended for five weeks on Tuesday.
However, a government source told AFP that “nothing is changing” until the case was concluded.
The case, brought by 78 British lawmakers, was rejected by a Scottish lower court last week but was overturned Wednesday by the Inner House, Scotland’s supreme civil court.
It found that Johnson’s advice to Queen Elizabeth II to prorogue parliament “was unlawful because it had the purpose of stymying parliament”, a summary judgement said.
A British government spokesman said: “We are disappointed by today’s decision, and will appeal to the UK Supreme Court.
“The UK government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda. Proroguing parliament is the legal and necessary way of delivering this.”
He noted a separate legal challenge to prorogation brought at the High Court in London last week had failed.
– ‘Recall parliament’ –
Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer welcomed the ruling, saying: “No one in their right mind believed Boris Johnson’s reason for shutting down parliament.
“I urge the prime minister to immediately recall parliament so we can debate this judgement and decide what happens next.”
Scotland’s first minister, Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon, echoed his call.
“The immediate political implications are clear… parliament must be recalled immediately to allow the essential work of scrutiny to continue,” she tweeted.
The summary judgement said the court would make an order declaring that Johnson’s advice to the queen and the subsequent prorogation was “null and of no effect”.
However, the government source said there would be no order issued ahead of next week’s appeal.
Legal commentator David Allen Green suggested that the case was likely to fail when it reached the Supreme Court, pointing out that Scottish law was different from that of England and Wales.
“That is why I and others would have put the chances of the action succeeding in London as zero. And that is why cannily the action was launched in Scotland, where judges and the law would be far more receptive,” he tweeted.
– Brexit delay –
Johnson took office in July promising to deliver on the 2016 referendum vote for Brexit by taking Britain out of the European Union on schedule on October 31 whatever the circumstances.
He says he is working hard to agree new exit terms, after the deal negotiated by his predecessor Theresa May was rejected by MPs, despite EU leaders insisting the current terms are the best on offer.
Last week, between returning from their summer holidays and parliament’s suspension, MPs passed a law to force Johnson to delay Brexit if he does not get a new deal by an EU summit on October 17-18.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Wednesday that the bloc should not make any further concessions to Britain.
New testimony adds 2 stunning — and previously unknown — details about the Ukraine extortion
New testimony released Monday from the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of the Ukraine scandal included at least two new stunning details about the quid pro quo scheme at the heart of the matter.
Overall, the transcripts for depositions of Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, who were advisers to U.S. envoy Kurt Volker, built on the story of that we already know: that President Donald Trump pushed a shadow foreign policy to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political opponents, a scheme that involved using his office and military aid as leverage over the country in opposition to the official policy.
Trump blasted for his ‘Endorsement of Doom’ after Sean Spicer loses on ‘Dancing with the Stars’
Team Trump had gone all in urging supporters to vote for former White House press secretary Sean Spicer on the game show "Dancing with the Stars."
Votes had been urged by RNC officials and Trump himself had urged his 66 million Twitter followers to vote for Spicer.
Despite the full heft of the Trump campaign, Spicer lost on Monday's show.
Trump deleted his failed tweet urging votes for Spicer -- and instead said it was a "great try" by his former advisor.
Looks like this endorsement was as successful as your last one!
‘He’s misunderstood’: Nikki Haley tells Fox News how Trump is actually a really good listener
Former Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley defended President Donald Trump during a Monday appearance with Fox News personality Sean Hannity.
Hannity asked the former South Carolina governor if Trump was "misunderstood."
"I do think he’s misunderstood," Haley replied.
"I can tell you, from the first day to the last day that I worked for the president, he always listened, he was always conscious of hearing other voices, allowing people to debate out the issues, and then he made his decision," Haley claimed.
She argued that, "I saw a president that was very thoughtful, looked at all of the issues, made decisions, and it was a pleasure and honor to work with him."